Top Sleepers Part II | 2018 Fantasy Football

by Nick Ercolano April 03, 2018

Top Sleepers Part II | 2018 Fantasy Football

Concluding the top 2018 fantasy football sleepers column, after wrapping up Part I, we're rounding out the last with five more of my favorite sleepers for 2018.

1. Alex Collins - RB (BAL)

Alex Collins Fantasy Football 2018

  • Alex Collins was the best running back in Baltimore last year and it wasn't even remotely close. 
  • Collins finished as RB17 in fantasy and was just an absolute animal, everytime you turned on the TV and watched him run he honestly looked like Beast Mode.
  • Some numbers from last szn:
  • Collins ran for 973 yards on 212 carries - yards were 11th most in the NFL.
  • That 4.6 YPC ranked 5th in the NFL among 34 running backs with at least 135 carries.
  • 3 yards after contact was 7th among those 34 running backs.
  • He had 16 carries of 15+ yards, which was 2nd in the NFL and ranked 10th in yards created per carry (1.78) per Player Profiler.
  • The Ravens just would not commit to Collins. They started the season 3-4 through Week 7. Week 8 is when they started feeding him, it was his first game with more than 15 touches - the team finished 6-3 down the stretch, Collins averaging over 19 touches/game over that span. 
  • Collins led the Ravens in rushing TDs (6), despite only seeing 3 GL carries compared to 6 from Suck Allen SMH.
  • Collins is literally just 23 years old. The Seahawks drafted him in 2016 and cut him after one year. They're going to regret this *Borat voice*
  • So, we look at the depth here. Danny Woodhead is gone, which could be huge, because Collins strength is not in receiving but they trusted him more and more down the stretch - seeing 2 or more catches in every one of their last 7 games.
  • Kenneth Dixon's return is probably what will scare most people. But he's literally done nothing except have hundreds of breakout articles written about him since joining the league two years ago. Oh that and get suspended. Get injured. The list goes on. I love Collins to lead this backfield and finish as a mid RB2 in fantasy.

2. Cooper Kupp - WR (LAR)

Cooper Kupp 2081 Fantasy Football

  • Honestly, I like Cooper Kupp and Robert Woods at their current ADP, but I prefer whoever's cheaper.
  • Kupp was a beast during his rookie season, leading their WRs in targets (90), receptions (62) and receiving yards (869), tying Woods with 5 touchdowns.
  • It was somewhat of a slow start to the beginning of the year for Kupp, in terms of volume because I think they were trying to figure out the dynamic between him, Woods and Watkins, but Kupp turned up the heat over their last 6 games (including playoff game vs. ATL) - posting 5.3 catches, over 76 yards and scoring 3 times.
  • Kupp has great hands, we knew that, but what intrigues me even more is how well he moves with the ball. He plays from the slot often, which makes sense of his 70th ranked average depth of target (9.7). His yards per reception though, are extremely impressive at 14.0 and his 5.9 yards after the catch ranked 10th among 61 WRs with at least 40 catches.
  • Fun fact, Kupp actually had the 2nd most RZ targets among all NFL WRs.
  • The big news here is, of course, that Sammy Watkins is gone, opening up a ton for Kupp. I know Watkins only had 66 targets so it's not a huge total, but now with a year under McVay and going INTO the offszn knowing exactly where he stands and how they're going to use him, Kupp will be a monster piece of this O. 
  • I think Kupp's gonna be the white Keenan Allen.

3. Tarik Cohen - RB (CHI)

Tarik Cohen 2018 Fantasy Football

  • How the Bears found a way to not use Tarik Cohen in 2017 was out of control.
  • This guy is an unbelievable talent. The reason he's on here is simple. Matt Nagy. The former Chiefs OC is turning this offense into a well-oiled machine.
  • Speaking at the NFL Combine, this is what Nagy had to say, "No. 1, size-wise you see that and you say, 'OK, they're pretty similar, right?'" said Nagy. "And then you have the speed, the shiftiness, the moves, everything that they do. They're similar in the fact that you can move them around and do different things." - Do you know who he was talking about? Tyreke Hill.
  • I went back to look at pass/run ratios again, like I did with McKinnon and the 49ers vs. Vikings - surprise, another trend we see - KC ranked top-10 in 2017 under Nagy in % of plays being passes on 1st and 2nd down, whereas Chicago ranked 25th. Expect Cohen to be utilized more on early downs as a pass-catcher here.
  • It was literally criminal for them to use Benny Cunningham over Cohen last year in the passing game. I'm convinced John Fox wanted to get fired. Cohen's usage was obviously the downside in 2017, which led to inconsistency, to put it lightly. In games that Tarik Cohen saw double-digit carries last year, the Bears were 3-0, and in those 3 games, he averaged 5 YPC on 38 carries. Problem is, Cohen had 5 carries or less in 9-of-16 games. You've got to give a dynamic playmaker like this a chance to hit a home run because eventually, he will.
  • Think about it like this, Cohen racked up about 725 total yards and he barely played on 35% of the teams offensive snaps. You have a guy like Duke Johnson busting out, playing on a little over 50% of the Browns snaps. Guys like Theo Riddick, James White do much less on higher snap counts than Cohen. Give Cohen a chance and he'll make em dance. 
  • Nagy will bring a creativity to this offense that eluded John Fox. 
  • Just 22 years old, turning 23 in July, Cohen could take a major step forward in this offense.

4. Nelson Agholor - WR (PHI)

  • I was blown away. I remember his rookie year, back in 2015 I think it was. I loved him, I'm pretty sure I drafted him in the 7th or 8th round of my fantasy draft that summer. I loved him coming out of USC.
  • Took him a few years, but he's finally turned into the guy I thought he would be.
  • I want to know how many of you guys watched Agholor last year. I want to do a comparison that might surprise some of you guys, check this out.Nelson Agholor Alshon Jeffery 2018 Fantasy Football
  • For those of y'all a little slow, we know who Player X is. But who is Player Y, and why is he getting drafted so much higher than Player X? I'll give you a kilosecond to take a guess.
  • You probably guess right. It's his teammate, Alshon Jeffery. Going back to what I just said before, how many of y'all watched Agholor play in 2017. By pretty much any stretch of the imagination, he looked better than Jeffery. Just an all-around better receiver, way more explosive and just a brand new player. Y'all can keep waiting on Jeffery's explosion year, but he already had it, 5 years ago in 2013. He's 28 now. Agholor will turn 25 in May.
  • By every number, the Eagles "#2" was more efficient. The only downfall was Jeffery's 113 targets, 22 more than Agholor's total (91). What's funny is, look at those RZ and inside-the-10 targets, where the QB needs to be more efficient... guess who he looked at more... And in the playoffs.. Agholor in 3 games. 15 receptions.. in 3 games.
  • I've said it a few times already this summer, and I'll say it again. Touchdowns fluctuate greatly on a year-to-year basis at the WR position. The guys that depend on them are very risky. Look at Mike Evans for example. And you can look at Alshon Jeffery himself. I went back and looked at Jeffery's TD/game over the last 5 szns:Alshon Jeffery Touchdowns
  • The number goes up and down. Jeffery's avg from 2013-2016 is 0.464 TDs/game. Last year that number when all the way up to 0.563. Look for it to level itself out in 2017.
  • The guys who catch the ball, and can make yards after the catch are the ones whose outcomes are much more predictable. Agholor out-did AJ in both catch % (68-50) and yards after the catch (5.1 - 3.5). 
  • Wentz is expected to sit out the entire offszn program, but the Eagles strongly believe he'll be ready for Week 1. Agholor will welcome him with open arms..Nelson Agholor with and without Carson Wentz
  • As you can see, Agholor played much better with Carson Wentz, but wasn't terrible without him. Jeffery on the other hand... Alshon Jeffery with and without Carson Wentz 2017
  • He was pretty much unusable. Obviously, he played well in the playoffs, but it took him longer to gain chemistry with Foles.
  • What's scarier is Jeffery's offseason though. While Agholor is working out and hopefully gaining rapport with whoever Philly's starting QB is next year, Jeffery will be recovering from offszn rotator cuff surgery. He's out at least 6 months, and Jeffery doesn't exactly have a history of picture-perfect health.
  • If Jeffery misses any time, or even starts the year slow, Agh should take advantage right out of the gate. Them being taken 60 picks apart is absurd. Give me Agholor at that value, ESPECIALLY in ANY ppr format, all day.

5. Corey Clement - RB (PHI)

Corey Clement 2018 Fantasy Football

  • Clement might really get me in trouble this year. I feel like I'm going to own him everywhere.
  • Not a monster year by any means, but I think it set things up great moving forward for the 23-year old back who stands 5-10, 220. He finished with 321 rushing yards, 4.3 ypc, 123 receiving yards and 6 total TDs. But if we're talking about how he FINISHED finished the szn... he grabbed 4 passes for a hunnid yahds and a tuddy in the Superbowl. 
  • Clement proved to serve well in the passing game, both blocking and receiving game. He was the 13th highest graded pass-blocking RB per PFF. Clement was easily the most impressive rookie back on their roster -- Wendell Smallwood and Donnell Pumphrey may both be on the roster bubble come cut day. 
  • What intrigues me most about Clement is that I think he has huge handcuff value, but also standalone value. With LeGarrette Blount in Detroit, Clement is the direct depth behind Jay Ajayi. Given his pass-blocking skills, Clement should own third downs. And given Ajayi's knee history, it's possible Clement owns 1st and 2nd downs too, at some point in 2018. Like I said, he's a big dude, 5-10, 220, he can handle a workload. His senior year at Wisconsin, Clement touched the ball 326 times, or over 25 times/game and held up just fine.
  • The only thing that scares me is the rumors about the Eagles addressing the RB position during the draft. The Eagles have reportedly worked out LSU's Derrius Guice, N.C. State running back Nyheim Hines, Mark Walton from Miami, so, we'll have to see.
  • But as it stands, CC is a late-round guy I want to own where I have room. He'll probably have to marinate on ya bench for a hot minute, but I really like the upside.


Nick Ercolano
Nick Ercolano

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